Only a few minutes into my Beer Hour segment with the senior pastor of the largest Methodist church in the country, the Rev. Adam Hamilton stopped me.
We had been talking about how Hamilton formed a spiritual connection with God at 14 years old despite growing up in a nonreligious environment, and we were moving on to how Hamilton formed the 20,000 member Church of the Resurrection based in Leawood.
“I gotta go back to my childhood for just a second,” Hamilton said. “... One thing I did love when I was a kid was collecting beer cans.”
Actually, Hamilton has 1,000 cans in his beer collection, and he’d brought some to show me.
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A 1933 Pfeiffer beer from Detroit. A Player’s can, with the “half the calories” inscription. A Schmidt “Birth of our Nation’s Flag” beer with Betsy Ross depicted on the front. He keeps his collection in bags in his basement.
“As a pastor, I can’t display them on the walls anywhere,” he quipped.
The experience summed up my time with Hamilton — full of warmth, humor and surprises. At KC Bier Co. on Thursday, Hamilton and I spent almost an hour talking about everything from how millennials feel about organized religion, whether the church should expand its stance on same-sex relationships and the belief that faith leaves room for questions, thinking and doubt.
“We believe God gave you a brain for a reason and that you don’t check your brain at the door of the church,” Hamilton said about his Methodist faith. “You should ask questions. God isn’t offended by your doubts.”
Part of Hamilton’s appeal is his approachability. And on Thursday, we talked about some lighter subjects, like the more superficial aspects of dating apps like Tinder. (Whoever thought of Tinder is genius, Hamilton said, before offering critiques of the app.) But we also talked about how to find meaningful relationships in 2017, what leads to a successful marriage and whether the hookup culture some people participate in actually leads to happiness.
Topics like that are the subject of “Birds and the Bees,” a series of sermons Hamilton is currently sharing at the Church of the Resurrection.
“We’re for people who are thinking people, who have a spirituality but are trying to find a place to live that out,” Hamilton said.